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original, may crop up between, such as the evergreen Our Boys ; but still, putting aside the drama proper and melodrama in its modern phase of domestic realism, the stock répertoire of managers and actors both in London and the provinces is alınost exclusively stolen' from our neighbours across the Channel. Whether the theft is to our benefit or their credit remains an open question.

Of high art dramas, not Shakespearian, there are, alas! not many, yet audiences ' fit though few' have had the sense to appreciate The Cup and The Falcon. Poets are not often nor necessarily skilled playwrights, for a play is poetry in action rather than diction. But if they would condescend to this limitation and train themselves into writing for the stage, which is quite different from writing for the closet, there seems no reason why our nineteenth century should not give us a second Shakespeare-if audiences could be educated into intelligent appreciation of him. I lately overheard an actor conversing with an author on the lack of English talent, and the flood of French triviality in the modern drama. The actor he was one of those cultivated, high-minded gentlemen, men with an ideal, who are gradually ennobling the profession—said to the author, “ People lay all this to the charge of the managers and actors, but it is not so. We want audiences. Not the "gilded youth,” or the man about town who merely goes to the theatre to amuse himself, but an audience, intelligent, appreciative, critical without being ill-natured, composed of fathers and mothers of families, who come with their sons and daughters, and spend their money as regularly and safely upon the theatre as upon Mudie's Library. To them the stage should be not a mere amusement but a part of education, supported and deserving of support by cultivated, intelligent, and right-minded people, instead of by the froth, or worse than the froth-the vicious residuum of society.'

Most true, and yet I think this actor, who was still young and enthusiastic in his profession, laid the saddle on the wrong horse. May not the fault lie primarily with managers and actors? The public is like a child, as simple and as impressionable. You must either be led by it or lead it, and it rather prefers the latter. Is any one strong enough to do this--to take the bull Society by the horns, and beginning as a revolutionist to end as an autocrat?

Could there not be established in London-I believe there is in New York—a theatre of which the primary object is that nothing shall be allowed therein which sins against morality or decorum ? thereby abolishing at once the unwholesome atmosphere which makes the modern stage often a place which no decent woman or honest man can breathe in. Failing this, could not our best actors and actresses, many of them excellent fathers and devoted wives and mothers, take the law into their own hands, and absolutely refuse to act in such plays as we outsiders shrink from taking our young daughters to see? And if, besides pure morality, high art was also studiedand by high art I mean the best of everything, be it a lever de rideau or a broad farce, all being done as well as it could be done, not merely to please, but to elevate the public-would such a theatre fail ? Pessimists say it would ; but I, for one, think better of human nature. I believe it would in a very short time be crammed nightly to the ceiling.

There is a vast and virtuous understratum in society which really loves the right and hates the wrong. In proof of this we need only point to modern Shakespeare revivals, always successful in any theatre, and to that form of melodrama which, on the principle that everything excellent of its kind is high art, ranks only second to what is called the legitimate drama.

No one could go and see such pieces as Chatterton, The Silver King, and even the Lights o' London, without coming away the better--morally as well as mentally. So far as it goes, each is thoroughly well acted throughout-a veritable transcript of naturethough realism is sometimes carried to excess. A van with live horses crossing the stage, the outside of a gin palace, the inside of a London 'slum,' though vivid and lifelike as some Dutch painting of a drunken boor—may be questionable subjects for art at all. But on the whole these melodramas are admirable studies of nature, and nature always wins. For among the generality of middle-class playgoers there is an honest sense of right and wrong, a delight in virtue rewarded and vice punished, very refreshing to see.

But the artist in any branch cannot rely on nature only. He must exercise that power of selection which is the secret of genius, and use nature without abusing it. Surely between the intensely realistic and the poetical drama there must lie a golden mean, which if managers and actors would believe in-their fortunes would be made. Witness the enormous success of that very original play Claudian. Its pure idealism, lofty moral, nay, actual religiousness of tone, caught the popular fancy, and it ran' for a year and a half. Let sceptics howl as they will, there is still in our England a wholesome heart of righteousness—the recoil of pure-minded women and chivalric men against that foul sewage stream which sometimes threatens to swamp us all. Every one who helps to stem it does a good deed. Therefore, those who, though play-actors,' are also gentlemen and gentlewomen, striving both by their acting and their private lives to make the stage what it ought to be, may take consolation for the brevity of their day of fame by remembering that while it lasts their power to guide not only public taste but public morality is enormous. And it is a personal power. Individual character as well as genius is the root of it. No woman who was not good, pure, and high-minded could have impersonated Shakespeare's women as Helen Faucit used to do. And though I have carefully avoided referring to those others of her profession who are still before the public, it would be easy to name a noble band of rising and risen actors and actresses, whom the British publicthat is, the worthiest section of it-would certainly not admire as it does if it could not say between its bursts of enthusiasm, "That man is a true gentleman,' That woman is a thoroughly good woman.'

If this is not always so, God help them, and God pity them!— for the small mimic stage has double temptations compared with the larger stage of the world. Shakespeare knew both-he was an actor as well as an author, and yet he could paint a Desdemona, an Imogen, a Hamlet, a Coriolanus. When our modern dramatists aim at creating such characters, and our modern actors and actresses delight in impersonating them, believing that to show Vice her own image is infinitely more dangerous than to shame her by showing the fair ideal image of Virtue, then will the impressionable public believe that there really is a charm worth trying for in 'whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are holy, or even of good report.? Thus, and thus only, we may hope for the gradual purifying of the stage, and the raising into the goodly company of true artists those whom some of us are prone to condemn or ignore as 'merely players.'

D. M. CRAIK,
The Author of John Halifax, Gentleman.'

EGYPTIAN DIVINE MYTHS.

ANCIENT EGYPT is one of the battle grounds in the long quarrel as to the origin and the nature of early religion. Did religion arise from an instinctive tendency of human nature, from an innate yearning after the Infinite, and were its primal forms comparatively pure, though later corrupted into animal worship, fetichism, and the cult of ghosts? Or did religion arise from certain inevitable mistakes of the undeveloped intellect—did it spring from ghost worship, magic, and totemism, that is, the adoration of certain objects and animals believed to be related to each separate stock or bloodkindred of human beings? These, roughly, are the main questions in the controversy; and perhaps they cannot be answered, or at least they cannot be answered by a simple 'yes' or 'no. Complete historical evidence is out of the question. We are acquainted with no race of men who were not more or less religious long before we first encounter them in actual experience or in history. Probably a close examination would prove that in even the most backward peoples religion contains a pure and spiritual element, as well as an element of unreason, of magic, of wild superstition. Which element is the earlier, or may they not have co-existed from the first? In the absence of historical evidence, we can only try to keep the two factors in myth and religion distinct, and examine them as they occur in different stages of civilisation. When we look at the religion and myths of Egypt, we find both elements, as will be shown, co-existing, and both full of force and vitality. The problem is to determine whether, on the whole, the monstrous beast-worships are old or comparatively late; whether they date from the delusions of savagery, or are the result of a system of symbols invented by the priesthoods. Again, as to the rational element of Egyptian religion, is that, on the whole, the result of late philosophical speculation, or is it an original and primitive feature of Egyptian theology ?

In the following sketch the attempt is made to show that, whatever myth and religion may have been in their undiscovered origins, the purer factor in Egyptian creeds is, to some extent, late and philosophical, while the wild irrational factor is, on the whole, the bequest of an indefinitely remote age of barbaric usages and institutions. The Fathers of the Christian Church were decidedly of this opinion.

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They had no doubt that the heathen were polytheists, and that their polytheism was either due to the wiles of the devil, or to survival of ancestor worship, or simply to the darkness and folly of fallen man in his early barbarism. Mr. Le Page Renouf (in his Hibbert Lectures), Dr. Brugsch, M. Pierret, and the late Vicomte de Rougé (an illustrious authority) maintain, against the Fathers and against M. Maspero and Professor Lieblein, of Christiania, the hypothesis that the bestial gods and absurd myths of Egypt are degradations. In this essay we naturally side with Professor Lieblein and M. Maspero.' We think that the worship of beasts was, in the majority of cases, a direct animal worship, and a continuation of familiar and world-wide savage practices. Mr. Le Page Renouf and M. Pierret, on the other hand, hold that this cult was a symbolical adoration of certain attributes of divinity, a theory maintained by the later Egyptians, and by foreign observers, such as Plutarch and Porphyry. It is not denied

side that many and multifarious gods were adored, nor, on the other side, that monotheistic and pantheistic beliefs prevailed to some extent at a very remote period. But the question is, Are the many and multifarious gods degradations of a pure monotheistic conception ? or does the pure monotheistic conception represent the thought of a later period than that which saw the rise of gods in the form of beasts?

Here it is perhaps impossible to give at once a decided and definite answer.

There is nothing to tell us what the gods were at their délut, nor whether the Egyptians brought them from their original seats, or saw their birth by Nile-side. When we first meet them their shapes have been profoundly modified in the course of ages, and do not present all the features of their original condition.3 Among the most backward peoples now on earth there are traces of a religious belief in a moral ruler of the world. That belief, however, is buried under a mythology in which, according to the laws of savage fancy, animals take the leading roles. In the same way the religious speculation of early Egypt was acquainted with a Power without a name or any mythological characteristic.'4 For some obscure reason, monotheistic ideas made way very early into Egypt. 5 At

I M. Lefébure (Les yeux d'Horus, p. 5) remarks that Egyptian religion is already fixed in the earliest texts, and that, thanks to a conservatism like that of China, it never altered. But even China is not so conservative as people suppose, and that there were many reformations and changes of every kind in the long history of Egyptian religion is plain even on M. Lefébure's own showing.

? See Brugsch's idea that the crocodile was worshipped as an emblem of the sun arising from the waters (Rel. und Myth. pp. 104, 105). Meanwhile M. Lefébure thinks that the crocodile is not the rising sun but a personification of the west, which swallows the setting stars (Osiris, 105). The Egyptians, like most suvages, had a Nature-Myth explaining that the stars, when they became invisible, were swallowed by a beast.

* Maspero, Hist. de l'Orient, 4th edition, p. 25.
· Le Page Renouf, p. 100.
s Maspero, Rev. de l’Hist. i. 125 (1st edition).

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